sugar butter flour: 3 ingredients for best practice in ece

what is your recipe for an enriched, engaged and energetic day at school?
This post was inspired by two things:
One is a delicious local bakery with said name Sugar Butter Flour which I try to not frequent for obvious reasons; Two is the Walker's shortbread that I snacked on yesterday with likely those ingredients in larger quantities than I should eat at one time.

Both got me thinking about the simplicity of ingredients to make good things, just like SUGAR BUTTER FLOUR.

The 3 Ingredients got me thinking about Early Childhood and how complicated things seem to have become over time as to what preschools "should" be, what teachers "should" teach, and [the most brutal] what children "should" learn. [sigh].
Got me thinking about 3 Ingredients for Best Practice.
Wouldn't that be great? Three weighty ingredients that could anchor Early Childhood for new teachers and master teachers alike? [yes].

So, here's the thing. I am not saying I have the answers of what the 3 Key Ingredients for Early Childhood "should" be.
Just saying an anchor would be pretty cool so that - for example - when someone starts saying the 3 Ingredients, then people would automatically associate them with Early Childhood Education in a positive, weighty, anchor sort of way.

Here are my suggested KEYS in the early childhood field. 
1. Step Back. The more seasoned I become as a facilitator for young children, the more excited and comfortable I am to completely fade into the background of children's explorations to allow for Their Agenda to thrive instead of mine. Granted, this has been a style of mine since the beginning, but the lens by which I admire the children's work has become more refined. Documentation and photography are my absolute must-have tools.
2. Hands-On. The use of diverse, natural materials are rich (not expensive) resources to enhance your environment for inquiry, exploration and invention. Collections from nature (pinecones, stones, sticks) can go in the Block Area, Science, Art. Taking apart used machines (wires, buttons, nuts/bolts) can contribute to sculptures, block construction, art. Think outside the plastic box.
3. Reflective Teaching. Collaboration with colleagues, bloggers and brand new teachers is vital to keep the dialogue of Best Practice ongoing in your own daily, yearly, and lifelong work. Reflecting on your own work combined with networking can help you determine who you want to be as an educator, what you believe in, how to take risks, and how to best support children's learning.

Sugar Butter Flour.
Good things are so simple.
Do YOU have ingredients for an enriched, engaged and energetic classroom?
Do you include yourself, the environment AND the children in your ingredients?


  1. beautiful insights. i agree with everything you said, wholeheartedly!

    1. oh, and i didn't answer your question. I like the reggio idea that the environment is the third teacher. and i think "free play" and "play based" should incorporate the element of "guided play". carefully, thoughtfully, RESPECTFULLY, facilitating play without dominating or intruding.

    2. Stephanie - Thanks for your comments! I appreciate your 'ingredients' of free play, play-based, and guided play! Play on!

  2. My work is creating nurturing environments in which babies and toddlers can thrive. Slow down, observe, and trust them... These three ingredients come immediately to mind. I love this: "I didn't know what I didn't know yet." It seems to me keeping an open, curious mind, and living in the "not knowing" is so important for teachers and caregivers of young children. If we approach children with this open attitude- not one of knowing, but of not knowing and wanting to know, it leaves room for the child to bring him or herself to the relationship. It becomes a mutual exploration and amazing things can happen. "I don't yet know who you are, but I want to." "I don't understand your ways of communicating, but I want to." "What do you want to show me?" "What do you want to tell me?" "What interests you?" "What is your idea about how to use these materials?" "How do you make sense of your world?" Wow- the possibilities are endless! So much more interesting and rich than if we "assume" we know!

    1. Lisa - What a thoughtful, reflective reply :) Thank you for 3 Ingredients especially focusing on the youngest children: Slow Down, Observe, Trust. So well said. I love the idea of having an open attitude to allow room for the children to bring her/himself to the relationship. Lovely.

  3. 1.Love
    2.Freedom to choose
    3.Clear rights for everyone
    Laura Oreamuno. Costa Rica

    1. Laura - Wonderful 3! I agree with all of them!

  4. Totally agree with your ideas, Jeanne. These three ingredients are so vital and infact fundamental.
    As a homeschoolig mom, I'm finding lot of comfort and peace in letting my daughter take the lead in coming up with ideas rather than me telling her 'what' we can do or 'how'.
    I also think that letting go of our expectations from them helps them truly 'be'. As parents, it's hard not to want your child to be 'this' and 'that', but it really doesn't work because by doing so we pass on the weight of our dreams and expectations on those delicate shoulders.
    Last but not least, we need to respect them as a person just as we would respect an adult. Giving them directions all the time or cautioning them every now and then depletes their enthusiasm and self-confidence.

    Thank you for getting this discussion and thinking going... :)
    I'll share your post on my FB page...

    1. Rashmie - Thanks for your perspective as a home-schooling mom! I agree with all 3 - child initiated experiences, letting go of expectations and respect surely set the tone for a love of learning for your child (and for you!) Thanks for sharing the post on your!


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